Quorum Court Holds Regular Meeting

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Clay County Quorum Court met for the first time in the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 22, handling a fairly light agenda. During the gathering, the justices approved the ordinance which updates the personnel policy for county employees. They also reviewed budget matters with district supervisors of the Second Judicial District Juvenile office and declared a vacancy in District Seven.

The meeting had been held a day later than usual due to the conflict with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance. The February meeting will also be held a day late, as that meeting date coincides with the President's Day holiday.

With seven of the eight justices in attendance, the meeting was called to order by Judge Mike Patterson at the courthouse in Piggott. Absent from the meeting was justice Duane Blanchard, while David Hatcher was attending his first meeting since once-again being voted to a position on the court.

After dispensing with the usual agenda items, the court turned its attention to Ordinance 2019-01, which updates the county personnel policy. The ordinance was introduced, title only, and the justices agreed to waive the stipulation it be read on three separate occasions and approved it without dissent. Also approved was the accompanying emergency clause, which allowed the legislation to go into effect immediately.

The updated policy addressed a number of issues, and brought the county in line with a number of recommendations made by the state association. During the deliberations there were no comments from the court, or those in the audience, which included a variety of deputies and sheriff's department staff.

The next order of business was to declare a vacancy in District Seven, which had been represented by Greg Ahrent, of Corning. Ahrent was elected mayor Corning last fall, and tendered his resignation from the court as a result. Patterson noted the county would inform the governor of the vacancy, and await an appointment to fill out the unexpired term.

The court next heard from Lewis Davis and Chip Barnes, co-district supervisors with the Second Judicial District Juvenile Office. Joined by the county staff, they were on hand to clarify a budget matter concerning funds for their department.

Davis noted an earlier conversation with Justice David Cagle, a member of the finance committee, had resulted in a misunderstanding on the budget. He indicated the department had planned to relinquish funding which was not used in years past, but noted as a result of the mix-up the funds had been removed and added as another line item. They also discussed the ways the funds could be used, which is restricted by the state and the judges which oversee the juvenile court system.

Following a review of the problem, a consensus was reached in which the line item would be removed from the budget.

In other business, Patterson reported the county's contract with Survival Flight was set to expire and the company had changed the group plan. Last year the county agreed to pay $10 for each employee to be covered by the air ambulance service, but recently Survival Flight reported they were doing away with this program but were offering a discounted $40 rate-which would also cover employee family members. After a lengthy discussion on the merits the program, and the possible need for acquiring the services from two company's, the justices agreed to spend the estimated $2,500 for the coverage.

Prior to closing the meeting, Cagle indicated he had been doing some research into the recent conversations concerning Rex Anne Galyean, executive director of the Clay County Housing Authority, and its operations. The matter had come up at the December meeting as the director had indicated she wanted to budget a raise, which is within her scope. At the time there was a somewhat heated discussion between Galyean and Judge Patterson, and at last week's meeting the judge once again asked that the matter be tabled for the time being while he continues to research the situation.

Afterward, the court voted to adjourn.

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